Ford Puma review
The Ford Puma is back - the small, sporty coupe is now a stylish, practical compact SUV that’s good to drive, but lacks cabin space.
We’ve waited a while for Ford to give us a proper compact SUV based on the Fiesta. Until now, the firm’s sole offering in the B-SUV market - the EcoSport - has not been good enough. The new Ford Puma hits the right notes and is precisely what you’d expect of the brand, blending practicality and affordability into a package that’s good to drive.
The Puma’s looks won’t appeal to everyone, but few rivals can better it for boot-space and virtually none can outshine the Puma from behind the wheel - equipment levels are strong too. However, there are more upmarket-feeling and spacious rivals out there for this sort of cash.
About the Ford Puma
Cast your memory back to 1997, and you may remember Ford launched a fun, small, front-wheel-drive coupe based on what was then the fourth-generation Fiesta. It added a bit of richly needed desirability at the smaller end of the brand’s British line-up. It was a hit - the Ford Puma had landed.
Now, the Puma name is back, and it’s an extremely similar story save for one very important detail; the new Ford Puma is not a small coupe, but a small five-door SUV. It’s based on the current, seventh-generation Fiesta supermini, sharing its chassis and its engines, as it enters a market that’s overflowing with choice at the minute.
Chief rivals include the Renault Captur, the Peugeot 2008, Skoda Kamiq and SEAT Arona, while the handsome Mazda CX-30 and spacious Volkswagen T-Cross offer further possibilities for customers considering a small family SUV. Left-field alternatives include cars like the design-led Nissan Juke, chunky Jeep Renegade and the retro Fiat 500 X.
The Puma line-up isn’t quite as expansive as the Fiesta’s, but there are still plenty of models to choose from and even more engine options will be available soon. The trim structure is very straightforward too, with four core versions: Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X and luxury ST-Line Vignale. The Puma ST performance model sits at the top of the range.
The Puma range doesn't have a basic entry-level model, so the cheapest Titanium specification is well equipped and finished with flair, including 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, power folding mirrors, navigation via an eight-inch central touchscreen display, cruise control, rear parking sensors and even a wireless charging pad. The other side to this is that the Puma’s starting price is relatively high compared with rivals, many of which start from below £20,000.
ST-Line models add a bit more standard equipment such as a widescreen 12.3-inch digital instrument display and automatic headlamps. But these cars major on sporty touches including a body-kit, different alloy wheels, sports seats and pedals and a sports suspension setup that helps the Puma to shine as one of the best crossovers to drive.
ST-Line X builds on this with luxury features such as partial leather upholstery, privacy glass in the windows and a 10-speaker audio setup from Bang & Olufsen, while the Vignale upgrade brings heated front seats, front parking sensors, keyless entry and Windsor premium leather upholstery. Vignale doesn't feel like good value for money, however.
The Puma is front-wheel-drive only and buyers are offered three engine options. The EcoBoost 125 uses a 123bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine as found in the Fiesta, while a 48-volt mild-hybrid version of this engine is also available. It doesn’t bring any additional power, although there is a slight increase in torque, and it introduces marginal reductions in CO2 emissions and gains in fuel economy, too. The third option is another 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with the same mild-hybrid system, but power is pushed up to 153bhp.
Mild-hybrid versions of the Puma use a six-speed manual gearbox for now, with a seven-speed automatic available with the 123bhp non-hybrid variant, although Ford has plans to introduce the auto transmission throughout the Puma range.
For the performance enthusiast, the Puma ST is arguably the best-handling compact SUV on sale, powered by the Fiesta ST’s 1.5-litre engine for a total of 197bhp.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Ford Puma is back - the small, sporty coupe is now a stylish, practical compact SUV that’s good to drive, but lacks cabin space.
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Puma’s proven 1.0-litre EcoBoost units are a known quantity, but the mild-hybrid system isn’t flawless.
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsFord uses proven 1.0-litre petrol engines for the Puma, with mild-hybrid technology helping to improve economy and emissions.
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Ford Puma has a familiar cabin design and good levels of standard kit, but overall quality can’t match rivals.
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceAlthough smaller than most rivals, the Ford Puma remains practical for family use and offers clever storage solutions.
- 6Reliability and safetyFord has achieved top marks for safety with the Puma, and reliability should be good, too.